Bobbie Gentry (born July 27, 1944) is an American singer-songwriter. She was born Roberta Lee Streeter to Portuguese parents in Chickasaw County, Mississippi. She shot to international fame in the summer of 1967 with the quirky and intriguing Ode to Billie Joe, written by Gentry and sung in her warm, captivating style. "Ode" was listed as the most popular single of the year in many U.S. ...show more
Bobbie Gentry (born July 27, 1944) is an American singer-songwriter. She was born Roberta Lee Streeter to Portuguese parents in Chickasaw County, Mississippi. She shot to international fame in the summer of 1967 with the quirky and intriguing Ode to Billie Joe, written by Gentry and sung in her warm, captivating style. "Ode" was listed as the most popular single of the year in many U.S.
record surveys and was admired by Frank Sinatra and other singers. Early years Gentry spent her childhood living with her father in Greenwood, Mississippi, where she attended elementary school and began teaching herself to play the guitar, the bass guitar, and the banjo. In her early teens, she moved to Palm Springs, California, to live with her mother, Ruby Bullington Streeter, graduating from Palm Springs High School in 1962. It was during this time that the teenage Roberta settled on the stage name "Bobbie Gentry," and began performing at local country clubs, encouraged by no less a Palm Springs celebrity than Bob Hope.
After a short career as a Las Vegas showgirl, Gentry moved to Los Angeles, attended UCLA (where she was a philosophy major) and worked clerical jobs while occasionally performing in local nightclubs. She later transferred to the Los Angeles Conservatory of Music to hone her composition and performing skills. Rise to fame In 1967, Gentry recorded a demo and submitted it to Capitol Records executive Kelly Gordon, who quickly signed her to a recording contract and produced her first album. A 45 rpm "single" of two of her songs--"Mississippi Delta" and "Ode to Billie Joe"--was the first issue from this first effort, and even though "Mississippi Delta" was chosen for the "A" side, radio stations were quickly enamored with the quirky tale of Billie Joe McAllister and the mystery of his fate, as hauntingly performed and recorded on the "B" side. ...show less
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